February 27, 2020--NRCS plans to invest up to $725 million nationwide for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2020 for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Applications are accepted throughout the year but interested producers should submit applications by May 29, 2020 to their local NRCS office to ensure their applications are considered for funding this year. Last year, the VT USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded 30 contracts totaling over $700,000.
The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm to the next level. NRCS is authorized to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023.
“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Vicky Drew, Vermont NRCS State Conservationist. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”
Some important improvements to the program include:
· NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres.
· For fiscal 2020, NRCS can spend up to $725 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
· Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.
· CSP now provides specific support for organic and transitioning to organic production activities, and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.
The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.
For more information and to apply, contact your local USDA-NRCS office in Vermont or visit the Vermont CSP webpage.
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